100% Tarka Vest review

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We’re deep in MTB Holiday Season and people are sorting themselves out with a bit more protection that their usual weekend warriorings. This 100% Tarka vest promises to be less ‘otter than most.

  • Brand: 100%
  • Product: Tarka Vest
  • From: Silverfish UK
  • Price: £139.99
  • Tested by: Ross for 1 month

In a nutshell: mesh body with anti-microbial and wicking properties for maximum comfort, off-set front zipper for removal ease, silicone elastic at hem to keep the whole thing in place.

100% are well known for their protection and goggle range across both MTB and Motocross. The Tarka stuff is their lightweight upper body protection range. Designed to be comfortable, whilst still offering a good level of protection. The range offers three different options with long sleeves, short sleeves and a vest style (the latter is the one I’ve been using). 

Protection comes in the form of two removable padded sections – one on the front for the chest and one on the back – along with a smaller lower back pad. 100% uses a dense foam like material called ‘SmartShock’ for the pads. The back and chest are made from three separate layers that are stuck together.

The main protection panels are also perforated to maximise airflow and help keep things cool, while also being removable for ease of washing. The pads are removable to allow versatility and let you run the protection you want for the riding you are doing.

The back protector is impact tested and certified to CE EN 1621-2: 2014 Level 2 which is basically the higher of the two levels (Level 1 or 2, rated for motorcycle use and be tested to “The maximum transmitted force must be below 9 kN, and no single value shall exceed 12 kN”).

The chest protector is rated to EN 1621-3: Level 1 full chest Type A, again rated for motorcycles.


I’m around 183m, weigh around 84kg and have a 41” – 41.5” chest and went for a size Large. The fit is nice and snug without being overly tight. Tight is definitely better than loose with something like this.

The length is good and sits below the waistband of my shorts / pants. Due to this, and the silicone gripper, I never experienced any issues with the hem riding up. 

Due the stretchy nature of the material, and the fact that the vest is designed to be a tight fit, the zip needs a bit of pulling in to get it fastened but once on it stays in place.

My only issue was the height of the zip and where it sat on my chest/neck /collarbone area. The zip felt like it extended slightly higher than the collar, and die to the added material for the zip gutter I just couldn’t get it comfortable. Because of this I ended up running it with the zip slightly down and then folded the flap under which made it way more comfortable and didn’t seem to affect the performance or stability. 


I tested the Tarka during an eight day trip to France which clocked up over 120,000ft of descending, along with a few decent climbs and pedals. The vest was worn every day in temperatures up to 30°c. 

With the weather being so hot, and because of the riding I was doing, I ended up removing the chest protector and just running the back pad as I was only ever planning on running back protection.

Getting the vest out of the box the pad feels a little bulky compared to some, and when I initially put the vest on the pads felt a little stiff, but soon became way more flexible and once riding I can honestly say I didn’t notice it. The vest itself is flexible and completely unrestrictive and pretty much fit and forget. The padding soon softens and molds to the shape of your back.

With the chest protector in, the vest is definitely a little snugger, but not too much. It is a great bonus to have the option to tune the level of protection you’re running. 

There’s no getting around the fact that wearing a back protector is going to be warmer than not, but it was only really noticeable when resting and soaking up the sun. Once moving, the holes noticeably let air flow through and help to keep things cooler.

Even after multiple days riding  in hot and dusty conditions, the Tarka was comfortable to wear and I didn’t get any hot spots or chafing despite it getting a regular soaking with sweat and a coating of finest French dust.

But the whole point of a back protector is to protect your back, and I can ‘happily’ say that I tested the Tarka and lived to tell the tale. Twice.

The first time was a pedal strike which ended up with me riding the stem for 10ft or so then heading over the bars and landing on my head/back into pretty chunky rock. No injuries. 

Next up was a fast front tyre wash-out which ended with me hitting the ground pretty hard and sliding down the trail on my back. This ended up with a grazed arm and shoulder, dented helmet, stiff shoulder and holes in the back of my jersey where I’d slid down the trail. 

Across these two crashes, the 100% Tarka stood up to some pretty big impacts and completely did its job. No gravel rash, no bruising, nothing on my back (apart from a slight red mark) and the pad doesn’t show any signs of damage. 


The 100% Tarka might not be totally perfect, but it’s only the zip that I have any real complaint with. The vest has proven to be generally comfortable, offering versatile protection and fundamentally it’s done exactly what it needed to do. It may be a little bulkier than some of the other options out there but the protection is there for a reason. If you’re thinking of getting yourself a back protector, then this one is well worth checking out.

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Review Info

Brand: 100%
Product: Tarka Vest
From: Silverfish UK
Price: £139.99
Tested: by Ross for 1 month
Author Profile Picture
Ross Demain

Ad Sales Manager

Ross pairs his childlike excitement for bikes with a complete disregard for the wellbeing of his ribs, or his rims. Best known for riding cheeky trails, his time is also spent trail building in his local woods, drinking beer, eating pies and entertaining his two children.

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Viewing 2 posts - 1 through 2 (of 2 total)
  • 100% Tarka Vest review
  • hotfuzz1973
    Full Member

    So the vest makes you a little otter…….

    Full Member

    I have the Fox Baseframe Pro short sleeve, and like it for similar reasons.

    This seems better in that the body is longer and it has lower back protection.

    The key thing to look out for with these types is that the chest and rib protectors are also made from high tech impact hardening material and are removable.

    Many versions have fixed basic EVA foam pads there, while reserving the fancy stuff for the back. This has 3 disadvantages:

    1. You don’t get much protection (plain Eva needs to be really thick to work)
    2. You get less versatility  because you can’t remove them
    3. you can’t wash and dry it quickly by removing the pads.
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